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Napa’s Atlas Social Chef On Food Trends and Who Would Play Him in a Movie (Plus a Recipe!)

After a recent, mind-blowing meal at Napa gastropub newbie, Atlas Social (the latest offering from local restaurateur tag team, Michael Gyetvan and his wife, Christina), I knew I had to score an interview with Chef Nick Ritchie. Ritchie totally knocked my Manolo Blahniks off with his innovative menu that offers many “they may be small, but they’re packing humongous flavor” plates. The menu is cleverly organized by category: from the ranch, the sea or the garden. Ritchie had me at his Crispy Fried Farm Egg that was stuffed with Bacon Jam, the mini Rabbit Pot Pie, and of course, the gingery Sweet & Sour Crab Toasts and feather-light, Ricotta Dumplings.

Make sure to stick around after the interview for his Mixed Greens and Herbs with Warm Breaded Goat Cheese recipe!

JustLuxe: What inspired you to become a chef?

Nick Ritchie: My father owned a small market and butcher shop when I was young, so I grew up surrounded by food. My first job was in 1994, where I was exposed to a professional kitchen at Tra Vigne when I was 13 years old. It had a great impact on my career. 

JL: What was the first thing you cooked?

NR: Who knows really? Both my mom and dad cooked at home all the time so probably something simple with them...brownies, choc-chip cookies, pancakes with Mickey Mouse ears, blueberry muffins, that kind of stuff.

JL: Did you go to culinary school?

NR: Yes. I graduated in 2001 from the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

JL: Who is your culinary idol?

NR: Marco Pierre White.

JL: If you weren't a chef, what would you be?

NR: I don’t know really. I was never much for the idea of 4+ years of college, but most likely something working with animals.

Janice Nieder

Janice Nieder could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant for 12 years in New York, with a client list that included Tavern on the Green, Dean & Deluca and Sign of the Dove. After being bitten by the travel bug, her culinary adventures took her to over 90 countries, where she shared a smoked monkey dinner with a generous Shuar Indian family deep...(Read More)

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